Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles, has unveiled a next-generation global vehicle platform it says will improve safety and driving performance while keeping the small Japanese automaker competitive through 2025.
The new vehicle platform is a key pillar of Fuji Heavy’s plan to achieve worldwide sales of 1.1 million vehicles in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021.
The main features include Subaru’s biggest-ever enhancement in overall vehicle performance, with an emotionally engaging “dynamic feel” that goes beyond high performance; the highest levels of safety; and a single design concept for development of all models, adaptable to electrification in the future.
The new platform will further refine Subaru’s dynamic feel in the: straight line stability, noise and vibration suppression, and comfort.
– Straight line stability. The new platform significantly increases rigidity throughout the body and chassis (a 70% to 100% increase over present models) and incorporates substantial improvements to the suspension system and achieves a lower center of gravity, bringing about highly responsive steering that allows drivers to control the vehicle precisely as they want. The eradication of unnecessary movement in handling makes the car seem to grip the road surface, achieving a traveling performance that looks ahead to the need for enhanced straight line stability in the autonomous vehicles of the future.
– Noise and vibration suppression. Optimized frame structure and stronger joints between parts allow the new platform to improve overall torsional rigidity by 70% over present models. This distributes the resonance and distortion throughout the body, greatly reducing vibrations from the steering wheel, floor, and seats. It achieves a quietness that goes beyond vehicle class.
– Comfort. The new platform increases the rigidity of the suspension mounting, improving the absorption of the suspension without warping the body of the car, and providing a smooth and comfortable drive whatever the irregularities in the road surface. By mounting the rear stabilizer directly to the body, the new platform reduces the body roll of the vehicle by 50% compared to present models.
The new platform achieves a center of gravity that is 5 mm lower than present models. Together with the major improvements in rigidity and the evolution of the suspension system, this lower center of gravity makes possible a more stable driving experience than ever before, and offers outstanding danger avoidance capabilities on a level with a high-performance sports car.
Thanks to a frame structure that enables more efficient energy absorption in the event of collision and the enhanced body rigidity resulting from the increased use of high-tensile steel plates including materials formed by the hot press method, impact energy absorption is improved by 40% over present models. The platform anticipates further improvements in strength and new materials and has the potential to continue to offer the world’s highest levels of collision safety even in 2025, Subaru said.
Single design concept, adaptable to electrification
The new platform will offer a single unified design concept for all Subaru models. Planning the main specifications of all vehicle types at one time and flexibly adjusting these basic specifications to match with the requirements of different models will strengthen the entire Subaru lineup while still allowing the company to develop models that take advantage of each model’s strengths.
The new concept allows one design concept to be adapted not only to gasoline engines but also to hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, and other types of alternative power units for which demand will increase further.
Development based on a single design concept makes it possible to use limited development personnel and facilities efficiently to develop a diverse range of models and to direct the resulting savings into areas that can make our products more competitive.
It will also become possible to produce platform components for multiple models in the same one production facility, rather than manufacturing them in different factories as has been the case in the past. This will increase production efficiency at Subaru’s factories and at our partner companies. The new unified design concept will also make it easier for the two factories in Japan and the Subaru of Indiana Automotive plant in the United States to carry out bridge production of multiple different models on a single line, making the global production system more flexible.
The Subaru Global Platform that offers these benefits will be used in the development of all Subaru vehicles from now on, beginning with the next-generation Impreza, due to hit the market in 2016.
Subaru also outlined new targets for autonomous driving, using the brand’s camera-based Eyesight safety system.
Next year, Subaru will introduce a new traffic jam assist function. It will allow the car to start and stop automatically in slow traffic and steer the car automatically around curves.
Subaru’s current system requires the driver to manually re-engage acceleration once the car has come to a full stop. The existing technology also does not feature automatic steering.
Traffic jam assist will work at speeds up to 40 mph.
Then by 2020, Subaru said it will introduce a semiautonomous driving function for highway driving. That system will allow automated lane changing and automated steering around curves.
It will combine radar sensors and GPS mapping with Eyesight.